Culinary cruises and travel are becoming more popular as people begin to expand their exotic food palates. It can be tedious trying to find short seminars or places which will teach you to cook a specific dish or cuisine in a short period of time. After all, your travels are still a vacation where you should take in more than just the culinary culture – you should also get to relax.
Taking your relaxation into consideration, planning your cooking vacation itinerary will take time and patience. Having the perfect balance of learning experiences and “me” time will give you satisfaction, knowing that the vacation you intend to have will be both relaxing and productive.
For me, a trip my program took to a cooking class at a restaurant in Dijon, France was one of the most rewarding parts of my entire study abroad experience. I hope you can find the same satisfaction in your own culinary travels! Here is some advice if the thought of a cooking vacation intrigues you.
The Basics of Cooking Vacations
If you are interested in taking a culinary vacation, it is important to understand a few key rules. These rules will help you have a better cooking experience and will help you plan for the best vacation possible.
- Consider your options. Some cooking schools offer day classes or short workshops to learn a particular dessert or dish. Some programs are longer, ranging anywhere from two weeks to six months! Always keep in mind what you are hoping to gain from the experience before you sign on. If you’re just a hobbyist and want to learn how to make macarons, you don’t need a six week course to perfect your technique. (Although some culinary connoisseurs may disagree.) Unless you are studying to be a master, a short program will be more than enough to “get a taste” of constructing a particular dish. Any longer, and you’re not vacationing – you’re studying abroad!
- Stay within your budget. While you might be on vacation, you still need to plan a legitimate budget for your cooking classes. Remember, you are taking classes – so you need to not only pay for those, but you might need to acquire ingredients or instruments you didn’t expect.
- Plan ahead. Never show up to a country and spontaneously decide to take cooking classes upon arrival unless you find a great deal or an opportunity you just can’t pass up. Planning ahead will allow for the opportunity to save money and find the best classes for your budget and goals.
- See if the classes require you to bring your own supplies. Some classes might require that you bring your own cooking utensils, such as aprons, ceramic cookware, or cutting boards. Always check with the program in advance to see if you will be expected to provide any of your supplies – and if you have them, find a way to check them into your luggage!
Finding the Best Places
Planning ahead will allow you to find exactly the kind of opportunities you’re looking for, usually at a far better price than the offers you would discover during your trip. Consider your cuisine or destination of choice, and look into the following:
- Check if local culinary schools offer short classes or seminars. Find out the names of the major schools in the area and check their website or contact them to see if they offer shorter-term classes for tourists. Visiting the school for a semester is unnecessary unless your goal is to become a professional chef; however, schools often offer smaller courses that last a day to a week for people who just want to get a quick introduction to a particular style or dish.
- While it may not make for an exciting vacation, check if online classes are available instead. There are a huge number of free and low cost alternatives online. A vacation to your country of choice may still be in order – use it as an excuse to try out national favorites at a fine restaurant and gather ingredients that are hard to find at home.
- Look for workshops presented by local restaurants. From time-to-time, highly-rated restaurants will put together a workshop where they teach people some of their signature dishes. While pricy, this is another popular option and a great way to find shorter half-day or single-day workshops.
- Ask a restaurant you like within the area if they would be willing to teach you a few techniques and dishes. If you absolutely love a particular restaurant, they may be flattered and willing to give you some pointers.
Ready for some culinary inspiration? Here are 10 cooking schools/programs around the world looking for pupils like you!
Prices reflect current United States dollar rate for the country-specific prices listed on the website and may vary by session and time of year. Contact the individual schools for the most up-to-date pricing.
Hutong Cuisine – Beijing, China
One Class: $40
Market Tour: $16
The Awaiting Table – Lecca, Italy
One Class: $377
Week-Long Course: $2,164
Royal Korean Cuisine – Seoul, South Korea
One Class: $36
Nine-Week Certification: $287
Kitchen in the Castle – Dublin, Ireland
Evening Class: $87
Day-Long Class: $200
Taste of Culture – Tokyo, Japan
James St Cooking School – Brisbane, Australia
One Class: $139-165
North Carolina Barbeque Society – North Carolina, United States
Two-Day “Boot Camp”: $449
Hanoi Cooking Centre – Hanoi, Vietnam
Three-Hour Class: $55
Cook’n With Class – Paris, France
Market Class: $247
Dessert Class: $168
LaZat – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
One Class: $70
Want more travel tips from Miss A’s Jet Set Diva? Connect with Adrienne Erin on Twitter or post a comment below!